Vidbio of Olympic speed skater Dan Jansen (Matt Keeslar) and his athletic triumphs following the death of sister Jane (Jayne Brook) pulls out all the stops, doesn’t bother to define secondary characters and kicks up several teary segs. As for the portrait of Jansen himself, he’s the Good Guy Who Could; otherwise, he doesn’t melt much ice.
This hop-skip-and-a-jump look at Jansen concentrates on his devotion to leukemia-stricken Jane, his grief-caused fall on the ice during the 1988 Olympics at Calgary, his relationship with caring dad Harry (Len Cariou), his ongoing friendship with Canadian skater Natalie (Christina Cox) and his romance with Robin Wicker (Claire Rankin).
Writer Wesley Bishop gives the vidpic an extra dimension with his respect for the Jansens’ religious beliefs and for their family cohesiveness. Bishop delivers a moving scene in which Harry tells the dying Jane she’s free to die, while Dan, unable to be there, seeks the victory she so much wants him to accomplish. The death all but destroys Dan.
The attractive Natalie eventually wearies of hearing about those happy days Dan and the late Jane had once enjoyed, a good cue for Robin to step onto the scene. She wants to hear about Jane, and he starts responding to her; their future steamrolls ahead. Sentiment’s everywhere.
Telefilm, under Bill Corcoran’s respectful direction, serves the purpose, and Bishop’s earnest script asks viewers for indulgence if they’re not up to snuff on Jansen’s true-life story. Keeslar is 99.9% pure as the Jansen champ; Brook, as the stricken sister, is admirable. Corcoran goes in for plenty of slo-mo stuff to wring out emotions, and is generally effective.
As for an enriching experience, Jansen comes off as a one-note fictional character skating on dramatically thin ice. Many viewers will be moved; others will move on.
Tech credits are good.